Mandating refundable deposits on
Full-page figure These "unclaimed" or "unredeemed" deposits remain the property of the distributors and bottlers in most states, and amount to millions of dollars a year.In Michigan and Massachusetts, the courts have ruled that because these unclaimed deposits are "abandoned" by the public, they rightfully belong to the state, and they are now used to fund environmental programs in those states.
Unbelievably, consumers were encouraged to toss their empty beer cans out wherever they happened to be.This prompted environmentalists to propose bottle bills in their state legislatures that would place a mandatory refundable deposit on beer and soft drink containers.The first bottle bill was passed in Vermont in 1953. It merely banned the sale of beer in non-refillable bottles.In Hawaii and California as well, the state collects all of the unredeemed deposits, which are then used to administer the deposit system. In short, bottle bills create a privately-funded collection infrastructure for beverage containers and make producers and consumers (rather than taxpayers) responsible for their packaging waste.There are many other reasons to institute a bottle bill, which are described in the section "Benefits of Bottle Bills." With so many recyclable materials out there, people wonder why it's worthwhile to focus on beverage containers only.